So it was all I could think about. Every time I bent over in sheer pain. Every time the tears made it worse. Every time I held the phone in my hand, promising myself five-more-minutes-til-I'll-call-the-ambulance. Every time the doctors refused me pain killers, but could never tell me what was wrong, or if the medicine they gave me was working. Every time I got up, every forty-five minutes, to force my eye open with my fingers and put drops in . . .
What if, when all this stops, I can't see?
And then, when the doctor looked at me and said "You have to go to this specialist RIGHT NOW, or you *will* lose your eye."
Well. Then all my worrying came into sharp focus. Suddenly, the pain in my eye was nothing to the pain in my heart. What then? What if I know I only have months, weeks - or how it felt, just days left? To see? To know what was around me?
I wasn't sure what to do with that question. All I could think about were all the paintings still in my head. All the descriptions of them still in my notebook. . . all the dreams I had transcribed that would go to waste. The images I had been planning for months, just dissipating. I couldn't breathe. The thought of it brought tears to my eyes, which in turn stopped me cold with more pain.
What would I do with the time that was left? Now that I was pushed against the wall, how would I respond?
Simple, I would quit my job. And I would paint. I would sketch, I would somehow make all my urban saints real. I would give them life, of some sort, before they were trapped in a small broken notebook in the bottom of my purse. I would give me life, before all my dreams were caught in words. Trapped in hastily scrawled ink across wrinkled paper. No shape, no light, no color. No life. Not the life I had, in my heart, promised them.
I started planning them in my head. Thinking as soon as I felt well enough to open my eyes in the light for a while. . . and while things got better, the fumes, I knew, would be too much. And I waited. Sam helped me clean the apartment, and I organized my supplies, my thoughts; screwed my courage.
Because while I can see again (though not as well as before), I never want to feel how I felt those days I honestly feared I wouldn’t. Because more than the fear of not seeing, it was the fear of letting down these characters in my head. All these portraits that have life to me, have stories and plans and prayers. I know it’s silly, but it’s up to me to bring them into this world, I’ve vowed to them somehow. They have work to do, I can feel it. They just need me to make the door.
Or perhaps, less insanely, I vowed to myself. I have work to do. Either way, I’m taking it seriously now. I’m not letting it, or them, slip away. Time to us both is too precious.
And so, there has been progress*.
*click to see larger
6 years ago